If I have given you delightThese words—“The books I leave behind”—are correctly read to reflect Kipling’s well-known antipathy to examination of an author’s life for clues to his work. [When Frank Doubleday in 1934 encountered Kipling at his home, Bateman’s, shoveling bundles of paper into a fire; asked what he was doing, the author replied: “Well, Effendi, I was looking over old papers and I got thinking. No one’s going to make a monkey out of me after I die.” Quoted in Andrew Lycett, Rudyard Kipling (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1999), p. 586.] But they can bear another emphasis: “The books I leave behind.” Kipling’s sense of integrity as a writer demanded that he rigorously control his canon, suppressing juvenilia, journalism, and ephemera, and limit the official literary record to his self-selected (and patently incomplete) “collected” works.
By aught that I have done
Let me lie quiet in that night
Which shall be yours anon:
And for that little, little span
The dead are borne in mind
Seek not to question other than
The books I leave behind.
[Rudyard Kipling, Doctors, The Waster, The Flight, Cain and Abel, The Appeal, (New York: Doubleday, Doran and Co., [31 January] 1939).]
Such a book as you propose would have to be checked by me throughout—else I could not authorize it. Now I am extremely busy and have in addition a heavy correspondence and with the best will in the world could not lay upon myself the extra work which this would entail. I am sorry therefore that I cannot give you the authorization for which you ask.Prideaux persisted, asking if he could seek the help of others, and Kipling raised further objections:
[Thomas Pinney, ed., Selected Letters of Rudyard Kipling, 6 vols. (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 1990-2004), 4: 126.]
If I had friends to whom I could refer you in the manner of dates, references, etc. for the bibliography I would be delighted for you to compile it. But with my habit of publishing in scattered magazines, plus translations, piracies and unauthorized reprints, etc. it would mean much more than proof reading for me, and I am in many cases the only person who could lay hands on the information.29 [17 August 1912, Kipling Papers, University of Sussex Library, 17/21.]Prideaux, a published bibliographer of Robert Louis Stevenson, abandoned the effort, although remnants of the material he gathered for the Kipling bibliography are now at Harvard University.
I don’t know whether, in speaking of American editions, you mean authorized American editions or all American editions. As you are probably aware there are many American editions of Mr. Kipling’s earlier and non-copyright stories which have been published without his sanction or knowledge. If the latter are to be included in your bibliography, may I suggest that a special section of your book be devoted to them, and that it might perhaps be headed “Pirate Editions, or Theft under American Copyright”, with a sub-title, “What Happens to an Author’s Work when published without his Permission or Knowledge.”The letter continues, responding to Livingston’s offer of permitting review of her working draft, with an unveiled threat of legal action:
As I think you are aware, it is not so much to correct any errors that may be in it, that Mr. Kipling would like to see whether he is willing to have certain things published. This, of course, is as much in your interest as Mr. Kipling’s as you might unwittingly include matter which would involve you in copyright difficulties.In the event, Mrs. Livingston held her ground: she sent proof sheets for Kipling’s review, but seems not to have omitted anything to avoid his displeasure. The author, through Watt, “definitely decided that he cannot authorized your book in any way whatever,” and refused to allow her to use “a few quotations to show the difference between the English and American editions” [A. S. Watt to Flora Livingston, 9 July 1924, Houghton Library, Harvard.], he asked that she “cut out your list of periodicals altogether” [A. S. Watt to Flora Livingston, 22 January 1925, Houghton Library, Harvard.] This was prescient on Kipling/Watt’s part, because listing of a magazine article as uncollected sometimes could lead to it being separately published in an unauthorized edition, e.g:
[A. S. Watt to Flora Livingston, 19 November 1923, Houghton Library, Harvard.]
“It is a wonderful piece of work, and must have been specially difficult as so much of my work has been published in so many different places and without signature…I wish from a selfish point of view that there had been more about Pirated editions. Some of these include interpolations and additions which I never wrote.” [Thomas Pinney, ed., Selected Letters of Rudyard Kipling, 6 vols. (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), 6: 566.]Nevertheless, his default posture was generally aggressive. When lawyer Ellis Ames Ballard, America’s greatest collector of Kipling books and manuscripts of the last century, wrote the author proposing to reprint certain letters in his collection, Kipling responded:
“My letters were written in confidence, over a series of years, to various friends and acquaintances with no idea of their meeting the public eye. I do not doubt the sincerity of your intentions, but it is possible that you might include matter, or references or implications which might cause pain to third parties, even after many years. In that case again, I should be held responsible.”While he graciously returned the Ballard-forwarded excerpts from some letters, having marked out : “what should not be published,” he ended with a growl at Ballard’s sleuthing:
“In return for your patience in having read thus far, may I recommend you as a collector not to print your deductions as to the relative merits of the brown and white paper covered School-boy Lyrics. Nothing—as must have seen professionally—is more deceptive than ‘circumstantial evidence’. In this particular case the knowledge rests with me alone.”As later research has shown, Ballard’s supposition that the brown wrappered version of Schoolboy Lyrics preceded the white-wrappered ones (contrary to Kipling’s mother’s remembrance) was entirely correct (Richards no. A1).
[Pinney, 6: 386-7. ]
“A Ballad of Photography” has been sold—for one third of my year’s pay in ’89!—but I couldn’t connect till you wrote about a “raffle”. Then it all come back—book and the rest of it. There isn’t a single scrap of stuff that isn’t used and exploited, after untold years, by forgotten people. They never think how it may jar and hurt the original maker, who gave it. You would laugh, as well as be shocked, at some of the cases. I never get used to it. No. I will never write anything about my family or anything connected with it in any way. You may have noticed that I have never been what one might call “forthcoming” in my confidences to the public.The author’s fourth and most compelling reason for denying his assistance to those seeking to know about his early work, whether poem or sketch or story, was that he would not allow to be recognized as his, what he no longer felt to be worthy of his reputation.
[Pinney, 5: 80.]
The Law (for which I paid some few dollars) has decided that any publisher in America can take any copyright book of mine and add to it any uncopyrighted stuff of mine that is knocking about the market which he thinks the public may like, and dish up the whole thing under any title. So if by chance you find “The Five Nations” (American edition) embellished with additions in the shape of stray limericks communicated to odd albums, private verses extracted from private letters, etc., etc., you will know that it isn’t me but George Haven Putnam or his imitators. I don’t like being edited by stationers and fancy leather good firms.More fundamentally, he reserved the personal right to suppress, not only those gatherings of his undoubted Indian journalism in collections he did not authorize, [Rudyard Kipling, The City of Dreadful Night and Other Sketches, Letters of Marque, and The Smith Administration. See Richards , 77-80.] but any of his work that no longer pleased him. In 1902, demanding that the editor of St. Nicholas Magazine, Mary Mapes Dodge, return to him a rediscovered manuscript of a poem, “The Dusky Crew,” that he had submitted to her for publication as a thirteen-year-old in 1879 and which she now proposed to publish, he wrote in emotionally charged language:
[Pinney, 3: 137-8. There was no such pirate edition of The Five Nations, as it happened, since that material was copyrighted, and any edition with that title not authorized by Kipling would have lead to a lawsuit against its publisher. On Kipling’s lawsuit against Putnam with respect to the Brushwood Edition, which rearranged the order of the same Kipling work which was appearing in the Outward Bound Edition, see Richards , 90-1.]
I don’t hold with reproducing M.S. and I’d never have dug up my early verse and put it in the “Outward Bound” [edition] if the pirates hadn’t begun that game first and so deprived me of the (almost) inalienable human (literary) right of decently burying my own dead.His “own dead” was a metaphor he used more than once: in another letter to Edward Lucas White, complaining about the 1909 pirate edition Abaft the Funnel, [Abaft the Funnel (New York: B. W. Dodge & Company, 1909) (Livingston 328, Stewart 324, Richards A227). Kipling’s remarkable reaction to this edition, which included compelling his regular publisher Doubleday to issue a competing edition priced at 19 cents, is more fully described in Richards , 101-3. ]Kipling wrote that he was:
[On 13 July 1902: Pinney, 3: 101-2.]
A bit sick about “Abaft the Funnel” because the enterprising Dodge must have sent or got a man to rake through old newspaper files and hike out everything that he thought was mine. Rather like having one’s own letters dug up….You see it’s a little thing like that which puts the U.S. out of court when it comes to matters of weight and criticism—and I do wish they’d realize it. I get solemn screeds from eloquent and erudite old birds across the water pronouncing on this or asking my opinion on t’other thing just as if they were alive and counted. Whereas they are quite, quite dead and will stay so, till they emerge from Eolithic environments. It’s quite the wrong attitude I know but what can one do with people without any conception of Law except as a thing to talk about at dinner.49This, then, was the ultimate reason that he could not and would not cooperate with his bibliographers.
Whereof I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works, for that is his portion.